Four powerful women and one amazing little girl share why self-love is so important no matter how visible our differences. First up: eight-year-old Ava and her mother Shala talk about the importance of being happy with the way God made created you.
Ages: 8 and 41
Occupations: Student, actor and model; radiation safety officer
On celebrating beauty…
Ava: Beauty is accepting your unique self…and being happy with the way God made you.
Shala: My daughter Ava is wise beyond her eight years. We've done lots of research together on albinism. We have always told Ava that she was born different to make a difference in the world. By definition albinism is a flaw because the DNA strand does not create enough melanin. I would categorize albinism as the perfect "flaw."
On shaking off the critics…
Shala: I worry about Ava feeling comfortable around her peers and finding friends in school. I worry about her features being "too White" for African-American groups and "too Black" for Caucasians. People point and stare all the time. Over the years I've learned that most of them are simply curious.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.
Ava: When I'm with my friends, I feel like a regular girl who's just like them. I believe God made me different so I can make a change in others.
On self-acceptance and embracing our differences…
Ava: Even though I have a different skin and hair color, I'm proud of who I am and how I look.
Shala: Find strength and peace in knowing you can't change your skin color or your eyes or people's curious gazes. We are all created for a purpose. We are all beautiful.
See more "Eye of the Beholder" stories in the January 2017 issue of ESSENCE!